Happy Bees

I’ve never seen bees do this before!

While working in the garden this morning and I kept hearing a loud buzzing. When I looked for the source, I noticed there was a Magnolia flower that had bloomed at dawn and had dropped some luscious stamens on its outstretched petals.

Bees doing a Happy Dance!

Bees doing a Happy Dance!

The bees found the stamens and seemed to be quite happy, playing and rolling around. I’ve never seen bees this happy!

 

 

Zucchini Brownies, Just try it!

Zucchini Brownies are a great way of adding vegetables to your families diet. Unless you tell them zucchini is in the mix, they simply won’t know. The secret here is to finely shred the zucchini so it ‘melts’ while baking. You can’t expect it to be undetectable if you put big chunks in the mix.

This is a great way to get some vegetables into your meat and potato family members.

This recipe follows the formula of replacing the fat in the recipe with vegetables. The shredded zucchini adds the required moisture that creates the most gooey, fudgy brownies; you won’t believe they are full of zucchini.

I’m looking forward to trying zucchini in other baked goods to see how it goes. I imagine a carrot zucchini cake?

Try the recipe and let me know what you think!

 

Zucchini Brownies

  • Servings: 9-12
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Zucchini BrowniesZucchini Brownies

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Butter a 9 x 9 baking dish.

Combine sugars, egg and vanilla in a mixing bowl on medium speed.

Fold in zucchini.

Shred Zucchini

Shred Zucchini

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Add flour mixture to zucchini mixture on low-speed, mixing only long enough to combine the ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish, smoothing it evenly in the dish.

All mixed together with the Shredded Zucchini

All mixed together with the Shredded Zucchini

Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes. Remove the brownies from the oven and cool on a rack.

Cut and remove from pan after the brownies have cooled to room temperature.

Zucchini brownies

Hot and Spicy Chicken

So here is a recipe for a hot and spicy chicken from Paul Prudhomme. He calls it “Frontier Chicken”; I call it delicious!

The flavor resembles Chicken Creole and will leave you smacking your lips because it is so good.

Hot and Spicy Chicken!

Hot and Spicy Chicken!

I left out the jalapeno because I thought it had enough spicy heat, but if you can tolerate them, add them in. We served sliced jalapeno on the side.

There’s one element that will surprise you.

Banana! Don’t leave it out! It makes for such a delightful complex surprise when you’re eating and there’s that bite. . .

Paul Prudhomme's Frontier Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Seasoning Mix

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek (I left it out because I couldn’t find it)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Combine everything into a small bowl; set aside while your prepare the rest of the dish

For the chicken and the rest of the dish:

  • 6 (4-6 ounce) chicken breasts or 1 cut-up 8 piece chicken or 8-12 chicken thighs, bone in
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups of chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped red peppers
  • 1 cup chopped green peppers
  • 1 cup chopped yellow peppers
  • 1 large ripe banana, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 fresh jalapeno, chopped (remove seeds and robs for milder heat; wear gloves to protect hands)
  • 1 14 ½ ounce can diced tomatoes

Sprinkle each side of the chicken breasts with ½ teaspoon of the spice mixture. Be sure to massage it in well.

Heat oil in a large skillet or 5-quart pot, add the chicken to brown each side, typically 2-3 minutes on each side; remove from pan.

Brown the seasoned chicken on both sides

Brown the seasoned chicken on both sides

(Notice the color of the oil! A great golden brown from the turmeric, it’s quite dramatic!)

If you notice the chicken or the pan is starting to burn, turn the heat down.

Once the chicken is removed from the skillet, place it in the oven to keep warm. It will finish cooking later.

Add 1 cup of the onions, only half of each of the chopped peppers (not jalapeno) and the banana and the remaining seasoning mix to the pan. Cook; stirring occasionally and scraping the pan for about 10 minutes. IF anything starts to get too brown, add chicken stop to loosen everything from the bottom of the pan.

Add garlic, ginger and flour, stir until the flour is absorbed; add the remaining peppers, onions, cilantro and jalapeño.

Cook for 5 minutes, add the tomatoes and remaining stock. Bring to a boil.

Add the chicken and any juices that may have accumulated to the pan, reduce to low and simmer about 10 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve hot over steamed brown rice; add a crisp, crunchy salad that includes cucumber to cool the mouth down!

The heat is coming from several sources: cayenne, cumin, and ginger, dry mustard, chili powder, and jalapeno.

Adjust any one of these to cool it down if it gets too hot for your taste. I just left out the jalapeno for us and served them on the side.

Hot and Spicy Chicken!

Hot and Spicy Chicken!

 

Make Half-Sour Pickles

Have you ever had one of those delicious pickles from a Jewish Deli and thought it was the best ever? Good chance it was a Half-Sour Pickle!

Half Sour Pickles are some of my favorite pickles. The best part is they are ready to eat only a few hours after making them.

Guaranteed they won’t be around for long!

As they age, they move into full sour pickles but that’s just because the cukes get to stay in the brine longer. Honestly, they never last that long in my home.

Half-Sour Pickles

  • Servings: 1 quart
  • Time: 30 minutes or less
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

These are considered a “fresh” pickle

  • 1 quart wide mouth canning jar with new 2-piece lid. Sterilize the jar in the dishwasher, NOT the 2-piece lid
  • 2 pounds pickling cucumbers, cut into spears or leave whole if desired
  • Ingredients for Half-Sour Pickles
  • 1/4 oz dill sprigs
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • For the Brine:
  • 32 ounces water
  • 3 ounces salt- use a scale and weigh it!
  • 4 ounces white vinegar

Boil 1 quart water. Place the 2-piece canning lid in a mixing bowl; pour boiling water over the canning lid; set aside until ready to use

Place the dill, garlic, and bay leaf into the bottom of a 1 quart wide mouth canning jar. Pack the cucumbers on top.

Bring the water, salt, and vinegar to a boil, pour directly over cucumbers. Place the canning lid on the jar, turn upside down and cool. Refrigerate. Allow pickles to steep 24 hours before eating. The pickles will change from half cured to a fully cured pickle the longer they sit in the brine.

They are good until they are gone, which won’t be long.

Place seasonings in clean, sterile jars

Pack cucumber spears into jars

Pour boiling brine into jars; fill to top

Secure lids and allow to cool

Adding dried onion flakes and jalapeno slices to the seasonings will add flavors as well. If you like your pickles spicy, try it.

This brine can also be used to pickle an excess of jalapenos and zucchini spears can be substituted for cucumbers if you like.

This is a quick and easy pickle. Try making some soon.

There’s nothing quite like a fresh pickle along side a sandwich or any kind of  charcuterie.

Enjoy!

Related Articles:

A Pickling Primer

Pickled Beets

Pickled Cauliflower

Pickled Turnips

Sweet Pickle Chips

 

 

Quick and Tasty Summer Lunch

This quick and tasty summer lunch is fresh out of the garden.

Who can resist this?

Quick and Tasty Summer Lunch

Quick and Tasty Summer Lunch

The tomato is of an heirloom variety that has a purple top and green bottom that slowly turns red as it ripens. It is the sweetest tomato I have ever tasted! I have no idea what the name of it is so if you know, Please let me know in the comments!

The cucumber was cut from the vine just minutes before it was sliced for the plate.

On the way in the door, I stopped and pulled a scallion and a few basil leaves.

Freshly pulled scallions

Freshly pulled scallions

I added some pickled cauliflower for a fermented food aspect and whole grain flat bread crackers.

Fresh and Pickled cauliflower

Fresh and Pickled cauliflower

 

Add some cheese and nuts if you want some protein.

One Delicious Bite!

One Delicious Bite!

Related Articles:

Pickled Cauliflower

Appetizing Cheese Board

Make your own goat cheese at home

Farmers Market Visit

Garden Fresh Vegetables

I was out and about yesterday and when I came home, I found this on my doorstep!

Garden Fresh Vegetables on the doorstep!

Amazing garden fresh vegetables just picked from the garden a couple of hours earlier.

These vegetables were grown from the seed, mulched and grown totally organically by Robert’s sister, Shelton, who lives in Boone, NC, up in the mountains.

This explains why she still had broccoli! I was overjoyed at the bounty:

Russet potatoes, garlic onions, red onions, broccoli, green and purple peppers, tomatoes and what looks like a purple tomato, green beans, red cabbage and green cabbage; it is an amazing gift.

Bountiful Garden Goodness

Bountiful Garden Goodness

We had just bought corn, kale, collards, arugula and spinach at the farmers market so we will be eating quite good this week.

Thank you Shelton!

These were just in time for  a cold day in July, needless to say, I made some amazing vegetable soup.

Garden Bounty Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: about 1 gallon
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TIP: Cut all the vegetables about the same size. Use different shapes for visual interest. Remember everything needs to fit on the spoon, not hang over.

Soup Ingredients

Soup Ingredients

  • 1/4 green cabbage, chopped fine
  • 1 large onion, cut into small dice
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 3 red potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 10 green beans, sliced
  • 2 broccoli crowns, separated into florets
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 cup lima beans
  • 1 ear of corn, cut it off
  • Enough water to cover the vegetables
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 Tablespoons salt, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 splash Texas Pete Hot Sauce

Chop it all up, sweat (cook without browning) the onions, carrots and cabbage, once these vegetables are tender, add the rest of the ingredients.

Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer until the vegetables are done. Adjust the seasonings and serve.

Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup for a chilly day in July

Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup for a chilly day in July

French Toast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Slathered in Blueberry Sauce

French Toast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Slathered in Blueberry Sauce is delicious and nutritious although not diet food. This dish came to me while trying to use up some things to make room in the refrigerator.

French Toast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Blueberry Syrup

French Toast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Blueberry Syrup

I make 95% of the bread we eat and typically use lots of grains in the loaves. We buy organic eggs from the farmers market and the blueberry sauce is made from a batch of berries I bought to make a pie but never did. So instead of the berries going bad (I couldn’t believe no one ate them!) I made a sauce. The recipe is below and is very simple.

Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast with Blueberry Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 20 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 4-6 slices of good quality, nearly stale bread
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg (fresh ground is best!)
  • 1 tablespoon oil or just enough to coat the bottom of the pan
  • 1 ounce of fresh plain goat cheese for each serving

Mix all the ingredients, except the bread, in a flat pan. Place the sliced bread in the egg mixture, turning to coat. Let the bread sit in the mixture so it can soak it all up.

Heat a pan large enough to hold all the slices, place the soaked bread in the hot pan and cook until each side is golden brown.

Place the French Toast on a warm plate, immediately spread the goat cheese on one side of the bottom slice, top with another slice of hot French Toast.

Pour Blueberry Sauce all over and serve.

Now if you wanted, you could whip some honey and cinnamon into the goat cheese before spreading it onto the French Toast. It would put this dish completely over the top!French Toast stuffed with Goat Cheese

This is soooo good! And made with whole grains so you will feel full and had great energy all morning.

Like I said, not diet food, but whole, real food.

I hope you try this recipe and enjoy every bite.

French Toast stffed with Goat Cheese

Blueberry Sauce

  • Servings: Varies
  • Time: 30 minutes or less
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 1 pint of fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup waterIMG_9355
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of cinnamon or zest from 1/2 lemon (Optional)

Wash and pick through the blueberries. Discard and soft, moldy or squished berries, leaves, stems and twigs. Combine everything into one pan and bring it to a boil. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until its thick. If you want the sauce smooth, put it in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the sauce to the desired consistency. I like mine to have a few whole berries left in it. You can always choose to put some fresh berries with it when you serve it too.

This sauce is great on this decadent French Toast and over pancakes, ice cream and even over grilled salmon. Treat yourself and try that one!